BOSCOBEL - The Boscobel Park Commission voted last Tuesday, June 2, to cancel all 2020 Summer Rec activities due to the coronavirus. A decision on the swimming pool was postponed until a joint meeting of the Park Commission and Common Council at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 15 at the Blaine Gym. To pre-register, e-mail City Administrator Misty Molzof at firstname.lastname@example.org
Debate over whether to open the swimming pool this summer was emotional, with people weighing in on both sides, either in person or online via Zoom meeting.
“I really feel the pool shouldn’t open simply for the safety of our kids, and don’t get me wrong, I’m a pool person,” said Angie O’Brien.
“I’m on the opposite side,” said Maria Lemieux. “According to the CDC, COVID isn’t spread through water due to all the chemicals in the pool. You could put up a sign saying ‘Swim at your own risk.’”
Commission President Kelly Randall asked pool managers Katie Reynolds and Julie Kendall how they thought about opening the pool this summer.
“We feel awful,” said Reynolds. “We’re both in are 60’s; we’re both really healthy, but this virus doesn’t care. I feel badly about what is going on. Our pool needs some work and maybe this is the time to get it done. We’ve looked at some of these restrictions and they’re ridiculous. To me it seems like a ridiculously large responsibility and, frankly, I’m scared—for myself and for my grandchildren.”
Added Kendall, “It’s just tearing us up at night. We just don’t know how we can do this safely. We don’t. It’s just a scary situation. Do we want all these people coming to Boscobel from other communities that have closed their pools?”
Commission member Paul Beck voiced concern over children using the Wisconsin River to cool off if the pool is closed for the summer.
“That river down there is a death trap and I’m afraid kids are going to flock down there,” Beck said. “If one died down there I’d have to live with that. I think we all have that concern. If we close the pool are kids going to go down to the river or swim in the creek?”
“Responsible parents shouldn’t send their children to the river without a life jacket, it at all,” responded Reynolds. “As for Sanders Creek, we swam in that all the time as kids. What is it, a foot deep?”
Fellow Commission member Jo Sommers thought it was too early to make a final decision.
“Can we wait and see what happens in three weeks, wait until the next meeting and see what happens?” she asked.
Reynolds wondered what she was supposed to say to staff if the Commission waited another month until the next meeting.
“What about staff?” she asked. “Are they supposed to sit around and see if they still have a job, or look for a different one?”
Librarian Robin Orlandi suggested hiring a staff member for the boat launch.
“What about taking a lifeguard and placing them at the boat landing to help with lifeguard duties and tourist assistance?” she asked.
“This is all new to us; no one knows what to do,” said Randall.
City Maintenance Director Dean Harville said closing the pool was the right thing to do given the uncertainty of the situation and given that it is only for one summer.
“I’ve spent 30-plus years working on that pool, but I just don’t think this is the year,” he said. “At some point there will be a vaccine, just like smallpox and other diseases.”
Commission member Milt Cashman made a motion to close the pool for the 2020 season, but didn’t receive a second to his motion.
“Do they want to wait?” Cashman asked. “It doesn’t make any difference to me. So are they just going to let people hang?”
Fellow Commission member Jerry Vial then made a motion to open the pool this summer, but that also failed to garner a second, setting up the joint Park Commission/Common Council meeting this coming Monday.“You’ll have to make a decision at that point or forget it,” said Director of Public Works Mike Reynolds.